School’s Out

WHETHER YOU crave sea air and sunshine, meadows and mountains or lush forests, now’s the perfect time to plan a spring break to blow away the winter cobwebs. Jump in the car and make tracks to a beautiful UK bolthole, lace up your walking boots and tackle some of Italy’s most scenic hill climbs, strap on a snowboard in the French Alps or take to a horse’s back for unspoilt ocean views on the Isle of Man. These holiday ideas will provide a much needed dose of fresh air to get the whole family moving.

Loch-side family fun in Scotland
Scotland is renowned for its countryside and lochs, so why not combine the two with a trip to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park at the foot of Ben Ledi mountain. Learn how to canoe as you explore the wonders of Loch Lubnaig.

Or you could head off on a hidden glen safari. With the help of an experienced guide, discover the rich history and unique nature of Strathyre. Look out for elusive red deer and golden eagles while learning how farming past and present has shaped the landscape.

Where to stay: <a href="http://www.forestholidays.co.uk"; target="blank">Forest Holidays</a> provides luxury log cabin breaks in Strathyre within the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park to suit all family sizes. Prices start from £272 for a four night break.

Hill walking in Tuscany
Olive groves, vineyards, and endless picturesque villages make Tuscany a hiker’s dream. There are countless trails in the region suitable for hikers of all abilities, many of which climb into the lush Tuscan hills and offer panoramic views of the region.

If you’re ready to don your walking boots, a good place to start is Gorgiti. Here a 16km trail passes through the slopes of Pratomagno, a mountain range surrounded by the river Arno on the side of the Valdarno valley.

Where to stay: <a href="http://www.tuscanynow.com"; target="blank">Tuscany Now</a> offers villas in some of the best walking territory of the region. Prices start from £571 per week.

Horseriding on the Isle of Man
A short skip and jump from the mainland, <a href="http://www.londoncityairport.com/travelandbooking/TimetableFor/IOM"; target="blank">flights from London City to the Isle of Man</a> take just over an hour. This underrated island is an adventure playground for lovers of the great outdoors. One of the best ways to see the countryside is on horseback. Wade through rivers and canter through secluded stretches of the 100 mile coastline. Trek deep into the beautiful countryside to experience breath-taking views only accessible from horseback.

Take the reins at one of the island’s trusted riding stables to develop your equestrian skills in a safe learning environment. The Ballchurry Equestrian Centre offers beach and river rides and provides tuition for riders as young as four years old.

Where to stay: The Sulby Glen Hotel near the town of Ramsey is a traditional country inn and provides a warm welcome to families. The inn has lovely views of the glens and mountains and is renowned for home-cooked hearty food – just what you need after a day in the fresh air on horseback. Standard room rate is £35 per person, per night including breakfast.

Archaeology in Sicily
Sicily is a history lover’s paradise. The Mediterranean was the cradle of western civilisation and this island was at its heart: it’s littered with relics from the last 3,000 years. Make the most of the quiet season and gentle climate by paying a visit to The Valley of the Temples near Agrigento on the south coast. The valley is home to eight ancient Greek temples in various states of dilapidation, including the many sturdy columns of The Temple of Hercules and the remarkably well-preserved Temples of Concord. The site is surrounded by olive groves and overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.

Make sure you leave enough time to visit the nearby National Archaeological Museum, which is filled with fascinating ancient artefacts – a must for history lovers of all ages.

Where to stay: <a href="http://www.thinksicily.com"; target="blank">Think Sicily</a> offers a wide range of family-friendly villas that are ideal for a half term break. Villa Olive is a contemporary property with easy access to the beach, a private panoramic pool and olive groves for exploring. Villas start from £5,610 per week.

Swaying palms and sand in Barbados
If you’re in need of a big dose of sunshine, head for the soft ,white beaches and sparkling waters of the Caribbean. Mullins Beach, found on the west coast of Barbados, is a popular choice for families, boasting villas with sun decks metres from the waves. This golden stretch, also known as the Platinum Coast, has calm waters ideal for swimming and snorkelling. You may be tempted to stick to sunbathing, but if you venture from your lounger you will be rewarded with some memorable days out, including the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, the Animal Flower Cave (which boasts tidal pools and sea caves that harbour all kinds of sea creatures), and Harrison’s Cave, where kids can explore a dizzying array of stalactites and stalagmites deep beneath the earth.

Where to stay: <a href="http://www.cvtravel.co.uk/en/pages/default.aspx"; target="blank">CV Travel's</a> beachfront house Easy Reach is positioned directly on Mullins Beach, with golf and tennis facilities close by. The villa’s staff will do the cooking, leaving you to enjoy a relaxing family holiday. The villa sleeps six and prices start from £3,152 per week.